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Village Pubs in Britain on the Decline

Tom Schmiedeler, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Geography at Washburn University. Tom’s interest in historical, environmental, and regional geography led him to a study of “The Decline of the Village Pub in the Garden of England.”

Small pubs have historically been the community meeting place and the identity of a village, Schmiedeler points out. Social connection was the primary reason to go to the pubs; the drinking was secondary.  But over the past fifty years, British and Scottish pubs have been transformed by a number of factors:  Taxes on alcohol have risen, making a pint more and more expensive.  Inexpensive alcohol is available in grocery stores. Drinking and driving laws are now in place and well-enforced. Licensing for pubs has become more difficult and costly.  And the Internet and family commitments keep potential customers at home.


Judge Joseph Pierron and Friend

Honorable G. Joseph Pierron, a fellow Rotarian, Lawrence resident, and native Kansan, has been a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals since 1990.  When he speaks to schools and civic groups, he brings along Spike the Dog to assist him in explaining the court system.

The role of the courts is to interpret the law, Pierron emphasized.  In the Kansas judicial system, there are numerous municipal courts, 79 district/magistrate courts, 167 district courts, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.  The fourteen judges on the Court of Appeals sit in panels of three to hear about 1600 cases each year. All seven members of the Kansas Supreme Court sit together to hear cases, typically 300 cases each year.

Judge Pierron told the story of the “Kansas Triple Play,” a political manuever in 1956 that allowed incumbant Governor Fred Hall to be named to the Supreme Court.  As a result of that situation, the legislature made a change to the Kansas constitution requiring that an independent panel select three nominees to fill Supreme Court vacancies from which the governor can choose.  The same process was used to select judges for the Court of Appeals until 2016 when the statute was changed to allow the governor to appoint Appellate Court judges without a panel review of candidates.

The criminal incarceration rate in Kansas has risen from 1:1000 in 1960 to 3:1000. Pierron indicated that the reason for the change was tougher law enforcement, especially for drugs and child abuse.  Mandatory sentencing has not been issue in Kansas, according to Pierron.  Kansas recently won an award for reducing the backlog of cases in the courts.

Judges are advocating for higher pay for the 1,600 non-judicial personnel supporting the courts in Kansas.  Although pay for judges is also extremely low compared to national averages, the immediate need is to hire and retain well-qualified people in support roles.

Caddy Stacks Fun!

Lawrence Central Rotarians Jim Peters and Kate Campbell clowned around the Rotary mini-golf hole at the opening event for Caddy Stacks. Caddy Stacks is a bi-annual fundraising event for the Lawrence Public Library. The hole was decorated to represent the Rotary Arboretum as a “Wonder of Lawrence .”

Earlier in the evening, Jim and Lee Anne Thompson listened to opening remarks at the party. Jim, Lee Anne, Fred Atchison and Jay Holley assisted with the design of the hole and the set up.

Other club members met this young golfer when they manned the hole during the weekend hours to distribute information about Lawrence Kids Calendar.  The Lawrence Kids Calendar donated calendar publicity to the project.

Ken Crockett Writes of Spencer Legacy

Topeka-based author Ken Crockett spent years researching the personal lives, business successes and philanthropy of Kenneth and Helen Spencer, two people who left a pronounced mark on Lawrence.  Kenneth and Helen Spencer of Kansas: Champions of Culture & Commerce in the Sunflower State is a nonfiction, biographical account of the Spencers and their major contributions, including the Kenneth Spencer Research Library and the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art at Kansas University.

“As I started to write the book, I knew of the philanthropy they had been involved in, but I really had no appreciation for the breadth of it,” Crockett said. “I would hope readers could see that these are two very extraordinary people who came from a common background and had a sense of obligation to share success with others.”

Crockett, 72, formed the idea for this book while researching another. He spent years of his early post-retirement life reading the correspondence of Kenneth Spencer, whose family owned Pittsburg & Midway Coal Mining Company. After publishing a book on that subject, Crockett returned to the library to take a closer look at Spencer’s life. He spent five years researching this book, conducting interviews with remaining acquaintances of the Spencers and reading all he could find.

Crockett earned a bachelor of arts from Central Missouri State University in 1964 and a juris doctor from Washburn University in 1967.

Kelley Hunt Inspires Singing!

Kelley Hunt got Lawrence Central Rotarians on their feet and singing!  Her encouragement and the lyric “We let the light shine over us” inspired members to join the chorus. Hunt also peformed the title song from her most recent of six recordings, “Beautiful Bones.”

Hunt’s website describes her sound as a “refined blend of blues, soul, and R&B and root music.” A singer and songwriter, piano player and guitarist, Hunt was born in Kansas City and earned a degree in music from KU.  Although she considers Lawrence as her home base, her band comes out of Chicago, and she tours and performs all over the country. Hunt will perform at the Cider Gallery on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

Hunt described being fascinated with the piano as a child even before she could see the keys.  Her mother always listened to her compositions and admonished her to think for herself in the face of setbacks and criticisms. Hunt’s success in a male-dominated industry comes from the self-assurance that that encouragement bred into her. As Hunt says, I was willing to “show up as who I am.”


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